Director: Ram Madhvani
Writers: Puneet Sharma, Ram Madhvani
Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Mrunal Thakur
Streaming on: Netflix
Dhamaka is based on the 2013 South Korean film ‘Terror Live’ written and directed by Kim Byung Woo. I haven’t watched the film. Hindi cinema has often relied on Western or South Asian film industries to adapt/copy inventive thrillers. Dhamaka is an official remake. The film starts with a charming montage of the film’s lead Arjun Pathak (Kartik Aaryan) and his wife Saumya Mehra-Pathak’s (Mrunal Thakur) sweet nothings. This montage ends with Arjun Pathak looking at the divorce papers. He’s an ex-primetime TV news anchor demoted to a radio jockey.
Arjun gets a call from a certain Raghubir Mahata saying he is going to blow up the Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai with a bomb in a few minutes. Arjun rubbishes the call but in no time he sees a bomb blast at the sea link. This is a Breaking News for his TV News channel TRTV Bharosa 24×7. He sees the opportunity to get back his primetime anchor job by talking to the mastermind behind this blast live on TV. The mastermind’s demand is simple. He wants the state’s minister Jaydev Patil to appear on live TV and apologize for the loss of three workers who died in a mishap during the repair work of the sea link.
Obviously, the minister is not going to oblige. Arjun tries to keep the mastermind engaged. Arjun’s cold blooded media boss Ankita (Amruta Subhash) just wants a great news show. She reminds Arjun what is a news anchor? Arjun replies an actor. What does an actor want? Audience. What does an audience want to see? Drama. And that’s what news channels are selling. The stakes are high for Arjun as his wife Saumya is reporting live from the blast site. There are personal and professional secrets which resurface as the drama unfolds at super quick pace.
Director Ram Madhvani along with writer Puneet Sharma manages to swiftly tell/show the terror at present and trauma in the past. There’s a lot happening physically and mentally with Arjun. Madhvani’s prowess is in bringing nuanced performances from his actors. Look at his last two releases Aarya starring Sushmita Sen and Neerja starring Sonam Kapoor. The two actresses’ performances under his direction are better than their entire filmography. The director does the same with Kartik Aaryan in Dhamaka. Madhvani in an interview had called Aaryan a talented and hardworking actor. The hard work and intent to surrender to the character and director’s vision is visible. This is by far Aaryan’s best performance. But there’s still a long way to go for the actor to play more nuanced characters. Dhamaka is a good start on that journey.
Mrunal Thakur is good and sincere in her special appearance. Someone please give this girl more meaty characters to play. Amruta Subhash as the cold, opportunist media boss is solid. The background score does full justice to keep you at the edge of the seat. The production design and visual effects are neatly done. The writing is crisp. The spoken word, action, characterization and performances are to the point keeping the realism intact because film ideas like this one can come across as outright bizarre. To sum it up, Dhamaka at 1 hour 52 minutes is a riveting thriller. Do watch.